(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday participated in the opening ceremony of the 2015 edition of the Milan Expo – the Universal Exhibition that the northern Italian city of Milan is hosting from May 1 to October 31, 2015, which this year is focusing on the theme: Feeding the planet – energy for life.
Over the course of the Expo’s six-month run, more than 140 participating countries are to showcase the best of their technology and demonstrate its usefulness in the cause of eradicating hunger and achieving global food security. In addition to the exhibitor nations, the Expo also involves international organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area.
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In a video message prepared for the inauguration on Friday, May 1, Pope Francis said, “I would like to make myself the spokesman for all our brothers and sisters, Christians and also non-Christians, as children whom God loves and for whom He gave His life: He broke the bread, which is the flesh of his Son become Man; He taught us to ask God the Father, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ The Expo is a propitious occasion to globalize solidarity. Let us not waste it, but make the very most of it.”
The Expo organizers hope the event will serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions to the problem of food security, and give everyone – visitors and participants – the opportunity to discover and taste some of the world’s most delicious foods, while learning more about the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.
The exhibition was not without controversy, either in its planning stages or at the opening itself, with several officials in the organising body facing corruption allegations, and on Friday – opening day – dozens of people protesting against the Expo torched cars and broke shops windows in Milan’s city centre.